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Chapter Books we loved this summer

Our junior reviewers were aged 8 to 18 and these were their favourite stories of the (now rather distant) summer holidays. More than one will feature in our Books of the Year, coming soon. To buy, click on the image or the title for a link to bookshop.org and support your local bookseller.


The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill

£6.99 paperback, Piccadilly Press

This is a book that does what books should do, whisk you off to another world immediately and keeps you wanting to find out more and more about it. It is an enchanting book about the magic of kindness and how important friendship is in our world and worlds we don’t know about. A fairy-tale fantasy with a wonderfully ununusual narrator that hooks you from the start. Perfectly placed words make it a delightful story to read for ages 9–12.

The Light in Everything by Katya Balen

£12.99 hardback, Bloomsbury

We adored October, October and had been so looking forward to Katya’s next and it does not disappoint. It is a wonderful book. About families and divisions and fear and hope and kindness and pain. You are rooting for her characters despite their unpleasant traits; they are so human and so real that you love them as if you know them. Read it. Ages 9+

The Map of Leaves by Yarrow Townsend

£7.99 paperback, Chicken House

This manages to be a book about nature while also being a ripping yarn that you can’t put down. Orla can talk to plants and they are the only way she is going to find a way to survive in her dangerous world. It is asking us all to listen to what nature is trying to tell us as the answer is often right under our feet. We loved this.

My Friend the Octopus by Lindsay Galvin

£7.99 paperback, Chicken House

Such a well crafted story with proper baddies, proper goodies and an Octopus. A brilliant sense of place, bringing Victorian London into full focus. Both informative and unputdownable. Ages 9+


Escape to the River Sea by Emma Carroll

£12.99 hardback, Macmillan

A must for any fans of Eva Ibbotsen’s epic Journey to the River Sea, set at the end of WWII the action moves from England to Austria and then to the Amazon itself on a hunt to find the famed Giant Sloth. It’s about animals and humans and the bond between them. Enthralling. Emma Carroll is at the top of her game. Ages 8+


The Silver Chain by Jion Sheibani

£12.99 hardback, Bonnier

This is an extraordinary book, almost impossible to describe so we urge you to read it. It is essentially a coming-of-age novel told in verse and illustrated throughout. It’s about mental health struggles and the comfort that can be found in music and friendship. It literally sings to you. Hugely impressive.

Ages 11+

While The Storm Rages by Phil Earle

£7.99, Andersen

Believe the hype. He has done it again. This is a story about courage and dogs and the world on the brink of war. Makes you laugh and cry in equal measure. Ages 9+

Paper Boat, Paper Bird by David Almond

£9.99 hardback, Hodder

A gorgeous book, deceptively simple. Mina is given a paper boat and a paper bird on a crowded bus in Kyoto. Worlds open up, slowly and simply to conjure a very special place. Unusual and utterly captivating. Ages 8+


Claire Gill and Emily Turner, October 2022